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Paleo Vanilla Cupcakes

paleo vanilla cupcakes chocolate frosting dessert recipe

Nut-free Paleo Vanilla Cupcakes –the entire recipe contains just two tablespoons of honey.

If you like my Paleo Chocolate Cupcakes, you’ll find these Paleo Vanilla Cupcakes irresistible. This Paleo dessert recipe is not only quick and easy to make, it is nut-free, gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free and refined sugar-free.

So what’s in these moist vanilla cupcakes? They’re made with coconut flour. Yes, for all of you nut-free folks, this is the perfect nut-free dessert. If you are looking for more nut-free recipes, hop on over to my nut-free recipes page.

Top your Paleo Vanilla Cupcakes with my Paleo Chocolate Frosting (or your own frosting recipe) for an extra special birthday or holiday treat. I love making vanilla cupcakes anytime of year; this recipe, with only seven ingredients can be whipped up in less than 10 minutes. Wondering how to make vanilla cupcakes? Here is your answer! I hope you enjoy these Paleo Vanilla Cupcakes as much as we do. They’re quite a treat.

Paleo Vanilla Cupcakes


  1. In a food processor, combine coconut flour, salt and baking soda
  2. Pulse in eggs, shortening, honey and vanilla
  3. Line a cupcake pan with 6 paper liners and scoop ¼ cup into each
  4. Bake at 350° for 20-24 minutes
  5. Cool for 1 hour
  6. Frost with Paleo Chocolate Frosting
  7. Serve

Makes 6 cupcakes

I’m anticipating that some of you may want to know if this vanilla cupcake recipe can be made without eggs. I have not tried doing this myself so am not entirely sure, but given my success at experimenting with egg-free baking (and remember I use only grain-free ingredients), I very much doubt it.

In terms of your other substitution questions regarding this recipe (as well as others), as I have said for years, I wish I had a crystal ball and could predict which substitutions would work and which wouldn’t. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet found such a thing (if I did it would save me the 10 rounds or so I do of testing every recipe on this website). The only way I get an answer to a substitution question is to test it out. With real ingredients. So go for it guys. Test out your substitutions, and after you do, leave a comment so that others can learn from you. Let’s all teach each other.

Here are some of my other nut-free dessert recipes for those of you looking for nut-free sweets during the holidays:

posted on December 11, 2013, 100 comments

  1. Valerie Mrak

    The recipe instruction say use a 12-muffin tin. But the yield is 6 cupcakes. So is this recipe designed to make 6 or to make 12 cupcakes?

  2. I love the fact that your cupcakes use lots of eggs. Our hens are laying like crazy right now, and I need all the egg-heavy recipes I can get! :)

  3. Rita

    Hello! Any replacement for the vegan shortening? Thanks! I live in Dubai and can´t find those things here! Ordering will take to long and I really want to try this! Thanks again.

  4. GVR


    I recently made Elana’s Peanut Butter & Jelly cookies and substituted butter for the vegan shortening with great results. If using butter isn’t an issue for you, then I think it might be worth trying.


  5. Faith

    Made these literally 5 minutes after the email showed up in my inbox! Haven’t eaten one yet or had a chance to frost them, but the husband ate one while they were still warm and gave it a thumbs up!

  6. Miri

    These look AMAZING! I cannot wait to try this out. :D Thank you!!!

  7. Beatrice Schlunger

    A lot of your recipes use coconut flour or milk. I cannot tolerate coconut so it leaves me not able to use a lot of what look like wonderful recipes! Is there a way to substitute?

  8. Mary

    Can I substitute coconut oil for shortening ?

  9. Michele

    I would love to make these and wondering if anybody has tried to substitute the (out) coconut floor with (in )almond floor.

  10. wondering if anybody has subbed agave for honey– thanks

  11. shirley

    I have been grain free for 7 months so I was delighted when I got Paleo Cooking from Elana’s Pantry. This has given me so much freedom to have some baked goods but almost everything has eggs. I am not able to eat eggs. Could you give us a few recipes without eggs, or a substitute that will work in baked goods?
    Otherwise I love you recipes and thank you for the time you take to write them.

    • Ann BECK

      If you are allergic to chicken eggs, have you tried duck eggs? Many people can tolerate those even if they cannot do chicken eggs. Available at the farmers market in San Francisco….maybe elswhere, too.

    • Carman

      If you google how to sub eggs, lots will come up. Can’t remember the quantity but I know banana, avocado, apple sauce, flax/chia with water can all sub eggs. I had even come across a egg replacer made with tapioca starch, potato starch and baking powder. Hope this helps

    • Bethany

      A great substite for eggs is flax seed.

      1 tablespoon whole golden flaxseeds
      4 tablespoons water (or other liquid)

      Let it sit for a few minutes and it’s becomes the goopy consistency of eggs. 1 egg = 1tbs flaxseed

  12. Susan

    For those of you asking about using almond flour instead of coconut flour- it would be a completely different recipe. Coconut flour needs A LOT of liquid, it just absorbs it like crazy. So if you used a different kind of flour it would probably be a liquidy mess.
    Otherwise I have not made a recipe by Elana that I did not like. They all come out terrific! If you can’t use coconut flour try making the almond flour muffins, they are yummy!

  13. Lindsay

    Made these today. Used butter instead of shortening. I think I needed another egg and a few minutes less in the oven but they were ok. I will definitely make them again though. And my favorite icing is the rawitarian raw chocolate icing. It’s just dates, cocoa powder, water and coconut oil and very delicious.

  14. I am so excited to find this website! I love how simple the recipes are, without five kinds of flour and two gums. I’ve made a couple recipes that turned out great, but I just made these and when I took them out of the oven they all fell and taste very eggy. has this happened to anyone else? any ideas what might have happened? I don’t have a food processor so I used a whisk instead- maybe this was my problem?

  15. Carey Huyser @ thebutternutbeat.com

    Can’t wait to try these, and as with just about ALL of your recipes, I plan to double it! :) Thanks!

  16. Naomi

    I made these with the pulp left over from making coconut milk and substituted almond extract for vanilla. Amazing! I made 24 cupcakes, and my kids devoured half of them before I could even icing them! Thanks Elana!

  17. Kristen

    We’re celebrating my nephew’s birthday this weekend and my mom and I are the only ones who are GF, so I’m going to whip up a small batch of cupcakes so we can enjoy one too! Can’t wait to try them!

  18. jen dolan

    besides how delicious your food is, i have to say that my next favorite thing about your recipes are the fact that (generally)they are short, concise and not many ingredients.

  19. The Wooden Spoon @ spoonofwood.blogspot.com

    I love the ingredients in this. Thank you!

  20. Delicious recipe!! Cupcakes were not as dense as other gluten-free recipes; Elana’s version is my favorite by far. I used coconut butter instead of shortening and iced the cupcakes with vanilla frosting (simple concoction of butter, confectioner’s sugar, vanilla, & milk). Cupcakes were on the smaller side as coconut flour does not rise, and not too sweet but that was fine – and preferable – because the icing took care of the sweetness. Cupcakes were a huge hit with my family even though they’re not gluten-free (only I am). I will definitely be making this again and highly recommend Elana’s recipe! I plan to try her other recipes as well…

  21. Courtney

    Made these tonight with a few changes. I used duck eggs instead of chicken eggs and duck fat instead of the shortening. Yummy! Thanks!!

  22. Can i use organic ghee instead of the shortening? Man, these look scrumptious!

  23. Lisen

    What is Paleo chocolate frosting? Sounds like something readymade and processed…..? In the UK by the way. Thank you!!!

    • Erica

      Paleo is referring to a type of diet. Here is a website to help you understand what it is. http://robbwolf.com/what-is-the-paleo-diet/ Paleo frosting is not pre-made or processed. Paleo frostings use unrefined sugars, such as honey, maple syrup, or palm sugar and/or dates, and unrefined flours such as coconut or almond. In her particular chocolate frosting she uses only coconut oil, chocolate chips, and vanilla. I am sure if you have a recipe you like to use, you can. :) I hope that helps.

  24. Susan

    These look wonderful. However, we don’t eat honey. If I substitute with Stevia, how much would I use?

    • Melanie Humphries-Connolly

      Apple Syrup (organic) worked just as well as honey. We made first batch with honey (sweet and browned quickly) 2nd batch was with the syrup. Unfortunately both times I have had a separation of ingredients during baking with an eggy bottom, hoping someone can help?

  25. jen

    If you can have flaxseed or potato, you can add that to help it rise (without eggs). I realize it may not be paleo though.

  26. Sheila

    These look delicious! And great for school lunches – thanks for sharing :)

  27. Charlemagne Prokopyshyn @ pudding-girl.de

    these are amazing! just made them, doubled up the ingredients to make 12 and only kept 2 tbsp honey in so less sweet and they are delicious! Just perfectly sweet enough with half the honey (us Europeans think USA recipes are really over sweet and sickly; no offence just our taste buds! :P) and I used real vanilla instead of extract and I skipped the icing because i don’t have chocolate in the house lol but loved these with a cuppa tea! fabulous recipe thank you so much! I love that the ingredients are few and recognizable! no xanthan gum or other strange stuff going on and they rise so well and are soft and light! Yey! :D

  28. Made these today and WOW, they are so delish!!! I also made the chocolate frosting, but used 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract and 1/2 tbsp orange extract to give it a different flavor and these cupcakes rocked!!! I used butter-flavored shortening and they were fantastic!

  29. Sam

    What can I use instead of shortening? I don’t have access to the one you use and as I’m in the UK not sure of the equivalent.

  30. Piper

    I substituted flax eggs and they came out really nice! I little crumbly but with no egg binder I have no complaints. The frosting is amazing

  31. Jessica Keller

    Can you not use the Egg Replacer (Powder)?

  32. Rasika

    from where can I buy coconut flour

  33. dgavs

    Isn’t coconut a tree nut?

  34. Mary Ann

    How do I print a recipe

  35. melanie

    Help, I have made these twice and both times get a separation of ingredients when baking resulting in a half egg and half baked cupcake, what am I doing wrong? I am using coconut pulp from leftover coconut milk (homemade) and the coconut flour is still quite coarse could this be the problem?

    • Wendy

      I think you have to use actual coconut flour. It needs to have time to absorb the liquid. Definitely don’t use leftover pulp. It’s not absorbent enough. You could also replace one of the eggs with half of a very ripe banana. Make sure you do it in the food processor. Hope that helps. I’ve made every baking mistake possible!

  36. I just had total success with these. Thank you!!! I used coconut oil in place of shortening with fabulous results. I topped the cupcakes with a date sweetened chocolate frosting as another reader suggested. Absolutely delicious. Elana, you are brilliant.

  37. Melanie

    Can anyone help with why I get an egg texture at bottom of cupcake, like there is a separation when baking? I am using my own homemade coconut flour and wondering if its not ground enough?

    • Wendy

      Are you making them in the food processor? Also be sure to let the batter sit for about 10 minutes in the the bowl to allow the coconut flour to absorb the liquid. Give it a final stir before pouring into the cupcake liners.

  38. Melanie Humphries-Connolly

    Ok so I went and purchased coconut flour in a packet and guess what? It worked!!! i guess my homemade wasn’t quite the right texture. I had a problem with the sticking onto paper, any suggestions?

  39. Wendy

    I just made these cupcakes for my son’s birthday and they were a huge hit! All his “normal” friends scarfed them down without hesitation. And anyone who has made gluten free, dairy free, low sugar stuff knows that look kids give when they think something tastes gross and the heartbreak that comes with throwing away expensive ingredient cupcakes with only one bite out of them…

    I made them exactly as the recipe called over the weekend. Then for his birthday party, I subbed half of a large banana for one of the eggs, and added Enjoy Life chocolate chips, then topped them with the paleo chocolate frosting. They were superb. Very moist, great crumb, and just delicious.

    Thank you Elana for making my celiac, dairy allergic son feel normal.

  40. lauren

    I’m making these tomorrow for my daughter to bring in to school Monday so she’s not left out of a school party. My only question is do you know if they freeze ok? I’d love to keep a few on hand for last minute parties. Anyone try?

  41. Ariaun

    I’m looking for a recipe for my son’s birthday and these look great! The cupcake in the picture looks really small, though. Is it a regular-sized cupcake or a mini?

  42. Nora

    Can I just stir these in a bowl? I don’t have a foo processor. :(

  43. Jennie

    Quick question! The markings are super small on my computer–do they read EIGHTH of a teaspoon or THIRD of a teaspoon? LOL thanks!

  44. laura

    Hi Elana! thanks sooo much for you amazing recipes! love them all! as for egg free recipes, i have recently found that replacing the egg whites can be done easily by replacing 1egg white with 1 table spoon of chia seed in half a glass of water left to rest and expand for 10min. then add in food processor with the rest and the seeds will soon disappear, i leave the egg yolk . voila! tastes the same. but maybe you already knew this in any case your recipes are truly a gift for a new gluten free household ! xxxx laura from Paris france

  45. Lisa Morgenstern @ F

    If it has coconut, it is NOT nut free. Coconut is a tree nut. Just wanted to clarify because coconut will kill my friend with a tree nut allergy, so you might want to modify your comment at the beginning about nut free. I have never used potato flour, is it similar?

  46. I made these with coconut oil and they turned out great!

  47. Sue V.

    Chia seeds and water can be subbed for eggs when baking. 1 T. Chia seeds and 3 T. water equal 1 egg. Mix together and use in recipe.

  48. Sarah

    I made these, they smell amazing, but they totally fell in on themselves like a souffle, anyone else encounter this?

  49. Amanda

    I just made these with a few substitutions, and they were amazing! I used butter instead of shortening, baking powder instead of baking soda (because that’s all I had), and xylitol with 2tbsp water instead of honey. They came out so tasty! Thank you!

  50. Jennifer

    For those of you who substituted coconut oil instead of shortening, did you melt the oil and how much did you use?

  51. Kendel

    I made the cupcakes and used softened butter in place of the shortening. They came out great, but they stuck to the paper. Any suggestions for next time?

  52. Jessica

    I just made these so I could make strawberry shortcake for the 4 th of July!! My daughter and I cut each cupcake into 8ths and put them inside a clear cup…layered stawberries on top with a little cocunut sugar. Last but not least we made some homemade whipped cream for the last layer and a few blue sprinkles to be festive…we didn’t have blueberries or I would have used that instead. Tasted wonderful!

  53. Tanya

    I can’t wait to try this cupcake recipe. Elana, thank you for sharing. Would these freeze well? If so, any recommendations.

  54. B.jibaly@gmail.com

    I tried making these and also the blueberry muffins and they always have a strange slimy layer at the bottom and are just overall not good. The chocolate cupcakes using coconut flour come out great but everything else doesnt. So i am wondering is it because i am using homemade coconut flour or what could be the reason?

  55. Dani

    Hello! Just curious if this recipe would work as a layer cake? I love cupcakes but sometimes a good old fashioned layer cake is the ticket :) Has anyone tried it, and if so how long did you bake? Standard 35-40ish mins?

  56. angela

    can i omit the shortening, or what can i use instead i dont have butter because that was my second option thank you, also instead of honey can i use stevia? im making for a low carber…

  57. Jen Heffelfinger

    I just made the cupcakes and they turned out great!!! However, I can’t get the icing to thicken up and fluff? I followed the recipe. Any suggestions?

  58. Tamera

    Elana, I have recently been eating paleo a good bit,(and look up recipes often! ) and let me just say I love your recipes the most! I always click your link first and out of all of the different ones with cookbooks out there yours would be the one i believe i would buy first. (As a matter Of fact i am seriously considering doing so) Because your recipes are always easy, ( fewest ingredients, therefore fewest fuss) usually always turn out wonderful, healthy, and best of all taste great! May God richly bless you for all you are doing to help others eat well.

  59. Heidi

    Can I use flax eggs in this recipe? I am allergic to eggs….

  60. Made these for Christmas, they came out great!

  61. Michelle

    I did try making these with flax eggs and they did not rise well and were somewhat gummy. I made a triple batch with butter instead of the palm shortening and they made a delicious 12 generous cupcakes. Thanks for the great recipe! :)

  62. Krp Diem

    Wonderful!!! My very first grain free cupcake! Once I saw someone post that coconut oil was a good sub for the shortening, I stopped reading, got up, and whipped them up. Very very moist. I can’t believe I can have a sweet treat that is healthy. Thanks so much Elana! I agree with the other posters, minimal ingredients are the way to go. I never would have gotten up to make this recipe if it had a ton of stuff that I didn’t have in my pantry.

  63. Krp Diem

    Elana! I am so glad I found your site. Now, I made this recipe again but this time added a bunch of things because I think this is a perfect base cupcake/muffin recipe.
    I doubled your original recipe and added:
    2 cups shredded zucchini
    1 cup rehydrated craisins
    Instead of 2 tbsp vanilla I did 1 tbsp orange extract, 1 vanilla.

    Love your ideas and simplicity, thanks again!

  64. Jessica O

    Anyone try making these in cake form and if so did you make any alterations for it? Looking for a cake for my daughter’s 4 year old birthday.

  65. These are a big hit. Very delicious and easy to make.

  66. Jessica

    Mine came out really egg-y tasting.. not sure if thats to be expected??
    I was sad, I wanted them SO badly.. so I made your chocolate torte instead.
    It’s my fav! I make it quite often. doesn’t taste eggy either. :)

    • Jessica

      Update!! after cooling them completely and in the fridge till the next day… I tried them again..and they were excellent the next day. They didn’t taste super eggy and I really enjoyed them! thx!

  67. Nancy

    I just made these and they deflated liKe a soufflé as soon as I removed them from the oven. Followed the recipe exactly. Any ideas what went wrong?

  68. Jessica

    I just made these again and they came out even better then the last time! huge success. they didn’t even get to cool all the way before they were gobbled up! thanks!

  69. Titus2Homemaker

    Coconut is NOT a tree nut. If someone is allergic to both, it’s because he’s allergic to BOTH, not because they’re in the same category.

    “*The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) states: “Coconut is not a botanical nut; it is classified as a fruit, even though the Food and Drug Administration recognizes coconut as a tree nut. While allergic reactions to coconut have been documented, most people who are allergic to tree nuts can safely eat coconut. If you are allergic to tree nuts, talk to your allergist before adding coconut to your diet.””

  70. Natalie Zodda

    I made these today. I doubled the recipe. Not sure why, but they really didn’t taste like anything. With all the vanilla, I was really surprised. I used Nutiva brand coconut flour. Any info on this brand?

  71. Natalie Zodda

    Also, the cupcakes really stuck to the paper liners. Thought that was odd.

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Comments are greatly appreciated! Unfortunately Elana is not able to answer substitution questions, as the only way to know if something works is to test it, and she does not provide this service. If you have a substitution question, please don't hesitate to leave a comment here, and another reader may jump in to answer. ↑ back to top